George Frederick Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
George Frederick Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)

Clytie

Details
George Frederick Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
Clytie
signed 'G F. Watts'
painted plaster
31 in. (78.5 cm.)
By repute, Watts’ personal collection, and by descent to his adopted daughter, Lillian Chapman.
Bought by Anton Lock in the 1950s from Lillian Chapman.
Bought in 1962 from Anton Lock by David Loshak, author of ‘George Frederic Watts 1817-1904’, and by descent to the present owner.

Few plaster versions are recorded:
Watts Gallery Version http://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/art-weve-helped-buy/artwork/1050/plaster-cast-of-a-bust-of-clytie-g-f-watts
One ‘gifted by Watts’ to George Eliot
Art Institute Chicago http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/186048 : “Plaster casts were made from piece molds that left mold lines after casting. Normally these would have been smoothed away, but Watts chose to leave them here. The presence of these lines in the cast invites comparison with bronzes by Watts’s younger contemporary Rodin, in which mold lines are also preserved.”
Peter Nahum http://www.leicestergalleries.com/19th-20th-century-paintings/d/neo-classical/george-frederic-watts/11339
Met http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/190739: “1875 Watts gave the cast to the sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer”
One plaster belonging to John Lavery, Esq., R.S.A. Exhibited at ‘The Memorial Exhibition of George Frederic Watts at the Royal Scottish Academy, 1905 (No. 144).
Sale room notice
Please note the additional provenance for this lot
By repute, Watts’ personal collection, and by descent to his adopted daughter, Lillian Chapman.

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Lot Essay

Clytie was Watts’s first large autonomous sculpture in the round and he displayed it unfinished at the Royal Academy in 1868. The only sculptural subject exhibited during his lifetime, it was greatly acclaimed and hailed as pioneering the New Sculpture movement by the revered art critic, Edmund Gosse. The Watts Gallery collection includes three busts of Clytie made in bronze, plaster and terracotta. A marble version was purchased from Watts by Lord Battersea and was donated to the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London by Lady Battersea in 1919.

The tale of the nymph Clytie's unfulfilled love for the sun-god is found in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book IV. Due to her jealousy Apollo left her, whereupon the distraught nymph remained in a remote place, neither eating or drinking for nine days, watching as her beloved drove his chariot across the sky. Gradually she became rooted to the ground, transforming into a flower. Here she is shown turning, trying to look at the sun.

Watt’s interest in sculpture emanated from an early tutorship at the age of ten with the sculptor William Behnes (1794-1864). This informed an appreciation for classical marbles at the British Museum where he would have been familiar with the famous and frequently replicated Clytie (Roman, about AD 40-50) collected by Charles Townley whilst on the Grand Tour in Italy (1771-4). The antique original looks staid and impassive compared to Watt's version which is energised with dramatic contrapposto movement and unrequited coquetterie.

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